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American Tortoise Rescue Celebrates World Turtle Day 2012 on May 23rd

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California Sanctuary Sponsors Day to Honor One of the World’s Oldest Creatures

Malibu, CA – January 26, 2011 –  American Tortoise Rescue (http://www.tortoise.com), a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is sponsoring its 12th annual World Turtle Day on May 23rd.  Featured in Chase’s Book of Annual Events, the day was created as an annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.  Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, founders of ATR, advocate humane treatment of all animals, including reptiles.  Since 1990, ATR has placed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes.  ATR assists law enforcement when undersize or endangered turtles are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick, neglected or abandoned turtles. 

“World Turtle Day was started 12 years ago to increase respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures.  These gentle animals have been around for about 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of the exotic food industry, habitat destruction and the cruel pet trade,” says Tellem. “We are seeing smaller turtles coming into the rescue meaning that older adults are disappearing from the wild, and the breeding stock is drastically reduced.  It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world.”  She added that many sea turtles lost their lives in 2010 thanks to BP’s uncontrolled oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.  “It’s a tragic example of putting profits before preserving our environment,” Tellem said.

This year a special fundraising event is scheduled for May 20th at the world famous Shack in Santa Monica, Calif.  Tellem says that this is the first fundraiser that the rescue has ever held, and members are looking forward to it already. :”There will be refreshments, door prizes and just a whole lot of turtle talk,” she said.

Tellem and Thompson note that experts predict the complete disappearance of one of the world’s oldest creatures within the next 50 years.  They recommend that adults and children do a few small things that can help to save turtles and tortoises for the next generation:

·        Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.

·        Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured. 

·        If a tortoise is crossing a busy street, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again. 

·        Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles, and to prevent off shore drilling that can lead to more endangered sea turtle deaths.

·        Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control shelter. 

·        Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches.  This is illegal everywhere in the U.S.

“Outlaw vendors at downtown Mercados and live food markets throughout the U.S. are a major problem for turtles, especially the ‘red eared slider’ water turtle.  These poor creatures have an almost 100 percent mortality rate due to ignorance about their care,” Tellem says.  She added that tiny turtles need to be kept in warm water, and must eat under water to survive.

“Our ultimate goal is to stop the illegal trade in turtles and tortoises around the world.  Our first priority here in the U.S. is to stop pet stores and reptile shows from selling illegal hatchling tortoises and turtles,” says Thompson.  “We also need to educate people who are unfamiliar with their proper care about the real risk of contracting salmonella from turtles.  Schools and county fairs are no place for turtles. Wash your hands thoroughly every time you touch a turtle or its water, and do not bring live turtles into homes where children are under the age of 12.”

For answers to questions and other information visit American Tortoise Rescue online at www.tortoise.com or send e-mail to info@tortoise.com; on Twitter @tortoiserescue; “Like” American Tortoise Rescue at www.Facebook.com/AmericanTortoiseRescue; and join World Turtle Day on Facebook at World Turtle Day.  

 

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